Posts Tagged ‘punishment’

In a post a few years ago, I talked about using Facebook and Twitter for the glory of God and how I have been able to use it to tell my friends and family about Christ whereas previously, I would have been limited. I cannot save anyone and God has not given that responsibility to me. My responsibility is to tell people the message of the gospel and leave God to do the saving. The sad fact though is that the majority of my unbelieving friends and family will not respond to the call of Christ because they are on the broad road that Jesus talked about below

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Courtesy of Reclaiming the Mind, here is a letter to my unbelieving friends and family

Dear friend/family member,

This is written to those of you who I know and are without Christ. By that I mean you have never fallen on your face before Christ and asked for forgiveness. Many of you are friends —close friends—whom I have talked to about Christ, but you are unconvinced. I would love to be able to push a button, write a check, or perform a task that would make you believe as I do. However, the stark reality that I have to deal with is that many of you whom I love very dearly will die in this state. And, according to my deep convictions, you will not be in the presence of the Lord but in a place of terrible judgement.

Now, I know what you are thinking. Don’t quit reading though. Hear me out. I am not necessarily trying to evangelize you or make you love Jesus. I am trying to tell you how to prepare for hell. Just give me some slack here. Though what I am offering to you is still as far from heaven as the east is from the west, it may do some good. Though you do not believe in heaven or hell, you have to admit: you could be wrong. Yes, I admit, I could be wrong too. But if I am wrong, what awaits me? Eternal darkness?Nothingness? Fine and good. However, if you are wrong, something terrible is coming. I can’t prepare for nothingness. You can prepare for Hell. This is a “just in case you are wrong” letter.

You see, I believe that when we die, we will all present ourselves to God. Let’s put it this way for illustrative purposes. When life as we know it comes to a close, there will be two lines in heaven and two sets of book. One line will stand before Christ, one line will stand behind him. Christ will have two books: one which has the name of those who stand behind him written in it called “the Book of Life”. The other book is for those who stand in front of him called “the Book of Judgement”. In this book of judgement is written all the wrong things that those who have not trusted in him have done. Every selfish act, every sexual sin, every cutting word, and every time you failed to love your children. In short, every sin that you have ever left your fingerprint on will be represented. Your disbelief in God will find a prominent place as it is the reason the ink will have dried on the pages of this book.

If I am right, I will be in a line behind the judge, Jesus. I will have eraser residue all over me. You see, my name used to be written in the same book of judgement. My issues were just as bad as yours (if not much worse). I had many pages reserved in that book. However, there is an invitation given to everyone in the line of judgement. It says that God loves us and does not desire that we should stand in this line and be judged. It says that Christ took the judgement upon himself for all those who will accept it. It says that who ever wants to leave this line and stand behind Christ can do so. I got in the line behind Christ many years ago. Because of this, Christ took a blood stained eraser, turned to my pages in the book of judgement, and erased it all. He then wrote my name in the book of life with permanent ink. Look at me. I have more eraser pieces on me than anyone. But the point is, because of what Christ did and because I trusted in him, my sins are no longer in that book. Because you failed to believe that Christ is God’s eternal Son who died on a wooden cross for your sins, your sin remains in that terrible book. I elected to have Christ take my penalty; you elected to stay in the line of judgement and stand on your own. I elected to have Christ be judged in my place; you have said, “If it is true, I will make my case before the Lord and stand on my own.” Therefore, we are in different lines. While these lines become permanent upon death (i.e. the Bible does not present an after death chance to change lines), in some sense, we are in these lines right now.

However, since you are determined to remain in the line of judgement (which breaks the Lord’s heart and mine), I am trying to think of what I can do for you. I am scrambling here with tears in my eyes as your future is so bleak. Of course, if you reject Christ, there is nothing you can do to avoid the ultimate fate that awaits you: eternity away from God’s love, eternity in torment, eternity in hell. Hell is your decision; it is not the decision of God who loves you. However, I do believe that while hell will be unimaginably terrible for everyone, it will be less unimaginably terrible for some than for others.

In the Bible, Christ says as much. Comparing hell to being whipped, he said that some will receive ”many lashes” and some will receive “few” (Luke 12:47-48). Hell will always be eternal. Hell will always be outside of the grace and love of God. But for some it will be worse than for others. I would that you would just trust in the God who loves you and sent his Son to erase your part in the book. I would that your name was written in the “Book of Life” not the “Book of Death and Judgement”, but, again, I have to deal with the reality that you may never change your heart toward God.

For this reason, I want to give you some advice about how to make, what I believe to be, your terrible future, less terrible. Here is how to prepare for Hell:

1. First and foremost, whenever the Bible is being taught, run.

I know that this sounds kind of odd (especially coming from me), but it is true. If you are determined to remain an unbeliever until death, don’t go to church where the Bible is taught, don’t listen to the Bible on your iPod, don’t even pick up a Bible and thumb through it. Stay far away from that book.

Let me illustrate. The other day, I yelled from the living room to my daughter Katelynn to get to bed. Fifteen minutes later, she was still up. I became upset with her. I thought it was a deliberate act of disobedience. However, when I talked to her about it, she said that she did not hear me. Once I believed her, my anger went away. Why? Because she did not actually know that I told her to go to bed. Now, she was still in a little bit of trouble because she already knew what her bedtime was. But her trouble would have been more severe had she not only known what her bedtime was but heard what I said and still disobeyed. The point is the more you hear what I believe to be God’s word and disobey, the greater the offense.

Listen to what Christ says about this:

Luke 12:48 “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”

2. Don’t try to persuade others, especially children, of your unbelief

Christ said some terrifying word to those who are evangelists of unbelief:

Mark 9:42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.”

3. Whatever causes you to sin, get rid of it

I think that this one will be the hardest of the three so far, but if you can do it, it is sound advice. If your television causes you to neglect your family, get rid of it. If your iPad is distracting you from productivity, throw it away. And (and this is going to sound crazy), if your eyes are causing you to lust (i.e. pornography?), cut them out. It is that serious.

Mark 9:43-48 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where ” ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

This does not mean that if you do these things, your deeds will cover all the other things written in that book, but it does mean that you will have fewer pages in that book than you would otherwise.

4. Take care of your family

Don’t neglect to work hard and provide for them. Whether it is your parents, wife, husband, or children, take care of them with all your might. Love them dearly. Let me get real practical here. Some of you men are divorced and are failing to pay for the support of your wife and children. Don’t do that. Some of you have parents who are elderly and you are more concerned about the advancement of your career than caring for them. These type of things are written in bold in the book of judgement.

Listen to what Paul tells Timothy:

1Tim. 5:8 “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

5. Don’t give yourself too much credit

If you were in the same line as me, I would simply say “Give credit to God for every good thing”. But I cannot say that to you since you do not follow or believe in God. However (and I am doing the best I can here), you have to do whatever you can to remain humble. Pride will create a full chapter in most people’s section in the book of judgement. It causes your heart to be darkened in so many ways and leads to the sins of vanity, selfishness, and the devaluing of others. Even in your worldview without God, you can understand that you are not essentially better than anyone else can’t you? If you are an atheist, you are the way you are due to fate, not your own ingenuity or efforts. I would that you would give credit to God for all things, but I will have to settle for second—a far distant second—best: just don’t pat yourself on your back too much.

Paul sees the wrath of God as centered on people’s lack of thanksgiving to him.

Rom. 1:21 “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Again, you cannot thank God, but you can keep from thanking yourself.

I have more to say . . . much more. But I fear that you may become overwhelmed. I may write more someday.

However, although I said that this was not written primarily to evangelize you, I must pass this invitation from God over to you once again. You do not have to stay in that line. As long as you are still breathing, you can join me over here behind Christ. You don’t have to pay anything, give anything, or do anything to join me. Just have to turn to Christ and ask him to erase your pages in that book. God is beckoning you to come.

Listen to this from John 3:18: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

One more thing. The line illustration is not really original with me. John uses a similar theme in a book in the Bible called “Revelation”:

Rev 20:12 “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.”

I would that your name was written in the book of life.

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If we were made in God’s image, that would mean that we have some of his creative attributes. If that is true, what is man able to create? Watch the amazing video below to find out. It is truly out of this world.

As a side note to my atheist friends, do you think it is possible that this could ever happen by chance?

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“If you are a Christian, God is not punishing you when you suffer. Jesus died for you, so your punishment has been paid. You will suffer because of your sin, sin of someone else, or consequence of the Fall. But, God is not punishing you. So, run to Him & not from Him” – Mark Driscoll.

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What is the good news of the gospel?

Death has a very good way of putting everything in perspective. As a believer, I can rest in the fact that after I die, I will go to be with my Savior, Jesus in heaven, not because of any good in me but because I have repented of my sins and trusted in the atoning work of Christ on the cross.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers (born again Christians) , about those who are asleep (dead), that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (1 Thess 4:13-15)

Lately, for some reason, I seem to be surrounded by death in one form or another and I have been thinking a lot about death and how we as christians should respond to it, especially to unbelievers. The bible says that we should ‘mourn with those who mourn’.

When we see the pain caused by death, I believe that our first response should not to get into a theological debate about where that person has gone but to have compassion and mourn with those who have been affected. It is such a difficult time for all involved and to see this first hand makes you look at life differently and makes you treasure the small things in life and not take anything for granted

But at the same time, if a person does approach you and asks questions pertaining to the afterlife, we have to be ready to give them an answer.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience – 1 Peter 3:15 (my emphasis added)

I think it would also be wrong to give a person false hope that the person who has died has gone ‘to a better place’ because the fact of the matter is that we dont know. In fact, a lot of ministers profess that the person who has died and ‘gone to be with Jesus’, not taking into account how they lived their life on earth.

I like this verse in Da Truths song ‘Go’

Sometimes it’s beautiful
Other times I’m fuming
When I go to a funeral- why
Because the preacher that’s ruling
The pulpit is fooling them
Pulling the wool over their eyes
So now what’s a man to think
When in every single case
The preacher boldly exclaims
Though he never claimed to be saved
And he died from aids
That he’s still in a better place
Now I leave confused
And the people leave confused
And the family is comforted, but
It’s under the false pretense
That once a weekend
Is all that Jesus wants
So you know that it’s our job
To open up their eyes
With the truth that’s found in the script
So we can’t afford to hide, the treasure that’s inside
Let’s bless the world with this wonderful gift
Let’s give it to them

This is a hard pill to swallow but the fact is, Jesus said that most people who die DO NOT go to a better place but to a worse place because they have not taken The Narrow Road but instead prefer the broad road.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Only God knows what has happened before the deceased’s final breath and we can only hope that they have repented before that happens but as stated before, we as believers need to be loving, compassionate, sensitive and understanding. Let us also ask God for wisdom as each situation will be unique.

And let us all remember that we are all part of the ultimate statistic. 10 out of 10 people die. We all will die one day and none of us know when that day will be. For some of us, it will be sooner rather than later as life can be so unpredictable so don’t take the risk and play Russian roulette with your soul. The bible says that it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this, the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

If you are not a Christian, please click here. It may be the most important mouse click you have done on the internet

If for any reason, you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, I STRONGLY urge you to look at this link called ‘Death is not dying’.

Jesus said…., “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies

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